Book into this cosy boutique hotel in Devon for 48 hours and feel the stress melt away
You’d be hard pressed to find a more beautiful setting for a UK hotel. Overlooking the English Riviera with breath taking views of Lyme Bay just a short walk away, you reach Orestone Manor via a series of tiny back lanes that snake down towards the sea so hidden away that we almost missed it entirely. Orestone combines the friendliness you’d expect from a family run hotel with the excellent dining experience and attentive service you’d get at London five-star.
A colonial-style Georgian manor house with just 14 rooms, staying at the property feels more like being a guest at a sumptuous country home as you draw the curtains each morning and look out onto the manicured lawn stretching down towards the sea. It also has an intriguing history – it’s the coastal retreat where artist John Callcott Horsley was inspired to design the first ever Christmas card, and with the views here, is not difficult to see why. This is a hotel that is perfectly placed to explore the highlights of South Devon. Just four miles outside lively Torquay with its host of restaurants and attractions, its also a great base if you’re wanting to visit the smaller highlights of the Riviera including the gorgeous thatched village of Maidencombe just 10 minutes walk away, as well as the nearby tourists seaside resorts of Brixham port, Shaldon and Teignmouth. As an aside, they also have three hot tubs!
We did plan on exploring some of the other restaurants in the area but I have to admit that once we’d eaten at the hotel the first night, we didn’t bother. With two AA rosettes for fine dining (there is an extensive a la carte menu, plus a more casual bistro dining experience) the restaurant relies heavily on local Devonshire produce. Expect an excellent selection of fresh sea food including Tein River mussels, Brixham Bay crab and the meatiest scallops from Torbay that were so good we ordered them three times! Other highlights included perfectly cooked Exmoor lamb with truffle, tender Devon beef and an array of creamy locally produced cheeses. Its worth mentioning too that they grow their own greens in their beautiful organic vegetable garden on the grounds and you could really tell the difference – crunchy, fresh and delicious. Meals can be taken in the main lounge, conservatory or terrace and it’s all wonderfully informal and relaxed despite the high quality. All round we were in foodie heaven. Orestone is also famous for is cream tea with homemade jam and clotted cream – definitely worth its reputation as the best in Devon. It’s usually served in the little outdoor terrace over looking the garden. Bliss!
You really must
Explore the area if you can tear yourself away. The stunning English Riviera bay has 22 miles of unspoilt coastline, with breath-taking views and over 20 beaches to choose from. In between Paignton and Brixham, sits Broadsands. Anchored at the end of the beautiful English Riviera Bay, it’s a picture-perfect, sandy beach, idyllic for families. Broadsands’ fine sand hit the headlines when Bournemouth University and Countryfile voted it the ‘best popular tourist beach for sandcastle-building’.
The English Riviera is witnessing a major redevelopment, particularly in Brixham, which has seen a surge of restaurants; markets and cultural activities spring up to compliment the famous beaches. So its well worth a visit, as is the visual spectacle Thatcher’s Rock which stands 45m high, a remnant of the Ice Age where you can see hundreds of layers of limestone formed over millions of years ago – a stunning sight.
One of The Riviera’s best-kept secret picnic spots is local favourite the stunning Tessier Gardens. The spectacular gardens, located between Babbacombe and St Marychurch in Torquay, are opened from morning to dusk, via the picture-perfect Devon park entrance on Lindridge Road. If you’re with children Paignton Zoo, Babbacome Model Village and Babbacombe Cliff Railway are also a must see.
Orestone Manor is easily reachable by train. Newton Abbot is the nearest mainline station, 4.4 miles (10 minutes) away by car or taxi. Direct (no changes) mainline trains run here direct from London Paddington, with a typical journey time of 2 hours 30 minutes, Bristol (1 hour 30), Birmingham (2 hours 45) and around the country. It’s also approximately 4 and a half hours drive from London.